Latest service and space updates: VCU Libraries COVID-19 response

In-hospital library renamed VCU Medical Center Health and Wellness Library

August 15, 2019

To better reflect its function and mission. VCU’s consumer health library,  the Community Health Education Center has a new name: VCU Medical Center Health and Wellness Library.

While the name has changed, the focus remains unchanged: providing patients and their families with health and wellness information that is vetted, up to date and easy to understand.


Interview with Dana Ladd, Ph.D. explaining how the library serves people


Located on the ground floor of the Gateway Building, just off the main lobby of the bustling hospital, this  library has been a free and trusted resource for the VCU Health and surrounding communities since 2002. It is a resource for patients and their families as well as health care providers, who refer patients to the library or use the library to secure information to share with patients. 

What’s more, the  library is a peaceful, welcoming space. Here, visitors find a relaxing getaway that allows them to rest and recharge between medical appointments or during a family member’s hospital stay. 

“This health library is one of VCU’s hidden assets,” says Emily Hurst, Deputy Director of Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences, who oversees the hospital-based library. “Even though it is in a very high-profile, convenient location on the ground floor of the Gateway Building within sight of valet parking and the information desk, many people did not know it was a patient health library filled with librarian-curated information, free and open to all. The name did not convey that and was a barrier for potential users.” 

A reliable source of information, a collaborator in patient care and an oasis of calm—the VCU Medical Center Health and Wellness Library is all of this and more.  

The idea for the consumer health library originated with three partners who recognized the increasing complexity of health care and the ongoing and growing need for high quality health care information for consumers. These partners, the MCV Hospitals Auxiliary, VCU Health and VCU Libraries, secured 2,225 square feet of space with an entrance off the main lobby of the then-expanding Gateway Building. The partners raised funds to complete the library. Fundraising included a gala to mark the 2002 grand opening, which was held concurrently with the opening of the new Gateway Building. First Lady Laura Bush and Virginia elected officials were among the esteemed guests at the opening.

Today, VCU’s consumer health library remains one of the very few similar health libraries that is tied not only to a top-tier academic medical library – the nearby Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences – but also to a major university medical center. 

Some 1,100 people visit the library  monthly to seek information about health and wellness.  A full-time health sciences librarian, library assistant and a trained staff of volunteers and students help patients and others find reliable health information written in easy-to-understand language.

Visitors find these consumer-level information resources and services at the library:  

  • Books – 2,000 print references 
  • Magazines – more than 30 health-related titles 
  • Videos – 100-plus videos in DVD format
  • Reading Area – tables and comfortable seating with electric outlets and network outlets
  • Children’s Area – games, puzzles and picture books on health topics 
  • Public Computers – seven public Internet computers
  • Guest WiFi 
  • Health and Wellness Displays – Regular displays and free monthly presentations on health and wellness topics over the lunch hour 
  • Free Business Services for patients and families for health-related concerns – printing, photocopying, faxing.  
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